No-Burn Days in 2010 Generated 559 Complaints, but Little Action by Maricopa County

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.


Hundreds of people called Maricopa County this year to complain about people violating restrictions on wood-burning.

Despite the Valley's ongoing problem with bad air, though, those calls resulted in almost no action by the county.

The county's Air Quality Department announced 11 no-burn days in 2010, and received 559 complaints based on those days, says Cari Gerchick, county spokeswoman.

In response, the county issued a grand total of four notices of violation.

The county also issued four warnings. But because a county ordinance dictates that a violator must receive a warning first, and a violation notice second, it's possible that the four warnings and four violations were given to the same people.

The non-enforcement of the no-burn ordinance isn't a new issue: The Associated Press reported back in 1997, three years after the ordinance was enacted, that no tickets had yet been issued.

As were reported yesterday, the county sent out teams of people to enforce the no-burn restrictions called for Christmas Eve and Day -- but no enforcement occurred. A question comes to our cynical mind: How much overtime pay did those teams draw to "work" on the Christmas holiday?

Meanwhile, pollution levels spiked on those days.

Gerchick told us yesterday that compliance officers don't knock on the doors of suspected violators out of fear of a potential confrontation. Instead, if a county official sees smoke pouring from a chimney on a no-burn day, the county mails a warning or violation notice to the homeowner. (We wonder how the county can make that charge stick, if they don't actually know who started and/or tended the fire.)

Seems a like a better system is needed to curtail fireplace use on bad-air days -- one that's not based on fines and citations that no one's getting anyway.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.